So I got home last night later than usual and forgot to ask my wife to hit the Patcher for SWTOR to download the latest patch. First off, even with my decent DL speed, it took a good 20 minutes to download. I wasn’t too frustrated about it, just was a mild surprise. So I went off and scanned about the Patch changes. Hmm…looky here! Optimization for graphics! Faster Load times! Ok that’s really all I saw pertinent. Now I own a mid grade Computer (Alienware something something. I’m at work so the specs escape me). Normally just about everything is on high settings with the exception of shadows/grass/trees and anti alias.
Supposedly, the anti alias was optimized for low to medium settings. Hmm ok, we will give it a whirl. Also the over all frame rate was to be increased. Well, I did some test runs. First out in Yavin. Why? Because there are a tone of trees everywhere and grass that really start grinding against your computer graphics to render and keep a decent frame rate. Normally I run the grass/shadow/trees on low settings. If they are on high, Yavin chugs down to about 35 FPS. Low, they tend to run around 50-60 which keeps me pretty happy. So I kept the anti alias at a medium setting and slid the grass and trees up to mid point. Not bad performance. The optimization for my system actually kept the frame rate around 50-60 on medium grass/trees. Slid it back down a little and was rocking at 90-100 FPS. So far, the test was going well. But the next chunky test for rendering was on Fleet. So I popped over to fleet to check things out. Normally on fleet because the amount of shadows and character renders, things can get a little bogged down as I’m peeling out in my speeder bike. This usally bogs down to about 40-50. On real busy nights it grinds down to 35-40 tops. Well, pleasantly surprised, I maintained a 60FPS with pretty decent rendering times. Overall, I would say BioWare’s optimizations for graphics was pretty successful. Perhaps not perfect. Of course I don’t have a high end rig either. This however, was a significant improvement and allowed the SWTOR universe to be a little more immersive with their graphics. Thumbs up for this one!
Load screens. So 3.3.2 was supposed to be able to speed up your load screens as well. I got mixed results on this. Going into War Zones was definitely improved. Going Shipboard to any of my Starships improved. Getting to Yavin had a small speed improvement (maybe 15 seconds? Ball parking of course). But I didn’t really feel as though planetary load ins were improved much. I bounced around some of my longer load screen planets (Tatooine, Hoth and Belsavis come to mind…see the pattern there?!?!). To be honest, I saw no improvement on those load screens at all. It really felt the same as normal. Now, I looked at my connectivity and it was really solid. No spikes in up/down data speed. Pretty consistent. My wife while on line was not down loading anything so I don’t believe it was an issue with my connection. Thing is, I wonder if the data pipeline is still over all bottle necked from the user to the server somewhere. I’m just not sure. While it didn’t wreck my game, the supposed enhancement failed to really impress me.
Minor Aberration: During one Warzone, a graphic error in rendering the skyline happened to the entire group I was with. The sky was black. Again, didn’t wreck the game…just an anomaly. We all mentioned it while waiting for the battle to begin. We ended up wrecking the Empire BTW (my pvp toon is on pub side, my Pve toons are Imp side).
So, overall, the graphics portion of the patch was a decent success. I won’t go far as mind blowing, but it was enough to keep me happy. There were some bug fixes as well by the way. Ones I’ve never encountered before but fixed. I’d love to hear from you readers to compare your experiences with this new patch. Tell me if the optimizations have been of help or hindrance? Did the Download go well or was it painfully long?